Like the well-known saying, “you are what you eat”, I believe the same to be true for our mind. That is, “We are what we think”. If we think life is wonderful, then it will be wonderful. If we wake up with the mindset “today is going to suck”, then my friends, that too will be the case. Our minds, our thoughts, shape our lives. They determine who we are, what we do and how we stand in the world. I’m pretty ruthless in my opinion about this. I believe we live in a world that has become so mollycoddled with messages of what we would like to hear rather than what we need to hear. Let’s just say, my students absolutely know this of me. There is nothing fluffy about my classes. I’m direct. I challenge my students. Why? Because this is where the strength of the mind develops. Not by me babbling meaningless words to people in an attempt to sound more spiritual. Spirituality comes through being strict with our mind, a whole other topic I shall discuss another time.
In my previous career, I’ve worked with countless clients who blamed the world for their lives not shaping up to what they expected. Everyone but themselves were at fault. Rarely did people stop and consider, “hey, I have the power to change my situation. No one else can do it for me.” It was shocking and (quite frankly) terribly sad to see clients’ years later still complaining about an incident from 5 years prior, blaming it for a ruined life. They’ve chosen to stay in the past, rather than move on.
Our ability to choose is one of the greatest gifts we possess. Our outlook, our perspective, shapes how we feel in any given moment. If we choose to look at a grey, windy, cold day as horrible – then it will be so. Or, if we look at rainy days as cosy, exciting and snug, suddenly it doesn’t look so awful. It’s all about perspective.
How often do you hear someone complain about the weather? It’s either too cold, or it’s too hot. It (the weather) can’t win! It’s never good enough. We always seem to find a negative way to look at the weather. It’s a simple example, and deliberately so. Just placing this amount of negative energy into our mind is enough to drag us down. We need to be careful about what we feed our mind. Observe that it’s cold. Sure. But don’t complain about it. It’s in the complaints that negativity breeds and becomes all-consuming. This is where we need to actively choose to think differently. It’s all the little, what appear to be insignificant comments/thoughts, that lead to a dissatisfied day. A dissatisfied week. A dissatisfied life.
I don’t proclaim to have my shit together. Because believe me I don’t. I’m human too! But what I actively, mindfully do, every day, is look for the good in everything. Even crappy experiences - what was the good or the lesson from it? Because there is always something good! Ask yourself, what could be done differently next time? You see, we cannot control what goes on out there. But we can control what goes on in here (pointing to my head referring to my mind). We can choose a mind full of happy stories or horror stories. Considering there are enough horror stories out there, why not choose happiness? At the end of the day, it takes less energy to smile than it does to cry or being angry.
A positive mindset is a commitment. As it can take work (especially on those days that push every button!) there are daily activities you can do to maintain this mindset. From journaling, to smiling deliberately, to meditating, there are many things we can do to cultivate a positive mind. For me, I’ve found the practice of gratitude to be the most profound. Before bed and every morning before practice I write what I’m grateful for. It could be as simple as waking up to a new day, making the perfect cup of tea or enjoying a conversation with my partner. I find this sets the tone for my day and helps my mind to relax at night. Gratitude is a powerful tool to creating happier, more fulfilling lives. So with that said, I challenge you to find your tool that helps you remain positive and use that tool daily. Challenge the negativity of yourself and others. These are habits we can choose to let go of. Through the practice of gratitude, meditation etc you will quickly notice as they (negative thoughts) become less and less. And life will begin to appear much brighter – at all times of the year.